Warrant Officers have been a part of the Navy almost from its inception. Just a little over a month after the Navy’s official establishment date of October 13, 1775, the phrase “warrant officer” appears for the first time in the records of the Continental Congress. And on December 22, 1775, Congress specified that all officers below the rank of 3rd Lieutenant were to be warrant officers. A glance at the original list of positions held by Warrant Officers—Surgeons, Chaplains, Gunners, Carpenters, etc.—reveals that those serving as Warrant Officers were often experts in a technical field, which is more true of Warrant Officers today than ever before.

At the turn of the 19th century, warrant officers began to be commissioned, creating the Chief Warrant Officer rank; they were addressed by the title “Chief” and their rating, such as Chief Boatswain or Chief Gunner. But the entry level rank of Warrant Officer, later Warrant Officer 1 (W-1), did not require a commission. This fact, coupled with the fact that the W-1 rank was viewed merely a short-term stepping stone to the commissioned rank of Chief Warrant Officer 2, led to the Navy’s decision to eliminate it entirely.

Just when the rank was disestablished is difficult to ascertain through Internet research alone. Several sources state that the move was made in the mid-1970s, but the 2002 Department of the Navy Disability Evaluation manual (SECNAVINST 1850.4E) specifically refers to it, stating that the phrase "commissioned officer" means "a member of the naval service serving in a grade above warrant officer, W-1.”

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105 Apache Drive, Archdale, NC, 27263. Tel: 1-844-937-2588